Winterizing automobiles

Jennifer Brittin
Staff Writer

Winter is already upon us, with frigid temperatures and snow covered roadways. Ads encouraging "winterization" of vehicles begin to appear as the temps drop, but what exactly does it mean to winterize a car?
Changes in climate don't just affect people, they also affect vehicles. Without proper care, these affects can be detrimental leaving you stranded, broke down or in an accident.
Specific things to check when the temperatures decrease are tire pressure & tread, antifreeze level and the condition of the vehicle's battery, advises the service department at Oliver Ford of Plymouth.
An aging battery can leave motorists stranded so checking the quality of the battery is very important. Checking the cables for cracks and breaks, making sure the terminals fit snugly and checking the battery's fluid levels are all part of battery maintenance.
Mounting the correct tires on a vehicle gives a huge advantage when driving in the snow. Snow tires are made to perform at temperatures of 40 degrees and below. They are made of a different compound so they tend to grip the roads better. It is very important to maintain proper air pressure in the vehicle's tires. Cold weather causes tires to deflate and having low tires decreases traction.
Doug Feece, owner of Burt's Body Shop, had some advice to share with automobile owners in a previous article. "Automobile owners can spray a little WD40 into the door locks to prevent freezing. A thin layer of silicone on the weather stripping around the vehicle's doors will help keep them from freezing shut," advised Feece.
Another safety concern is the condition of the vehicle's windshield wipers. Driving decisions are based on a clear view of the road, so it's critical that the wiper's can clear the windshield as much as possible. Check for cracks or deterioration of the rubber and whether the blades lie flat against the windshield. A windshield washer fluid with anitfreeze solution is advised in colder temperatures.
It is a good idea to have an emergency kit in the event that the vehicle does break down. Possible items to include are a blanket, flashlight, flares, a small shovel and cat litter.
Taking the time to winterize can give a driver peace of mind and help them to feel safer while driving in inclement weather.